[Armstrong Woods, November 2013.]
This Thanksgiving we took Sierra on her first trip to the redwoods – she’s seen the redwoods in the backyard of course, but there’s something absolutely indescribable about being surrounded by the cool, green, quiet stillness of the deep woods – which was really the perfect way to give thanks. Armstrong Redwoods State Park is one of my favorite places in Sonoma County (Have you been? It’s so worth a visit.), and it was a real kick to take my kid to a place where my brother and I went a lot when we were kids ourselves. She slept through it but it’s the principle of the thing, yes? It was pretty cold but I strapped her into the Bjorn thing, put on her blue fuzzy hat and a sweater, and off we went. Then we came home and ate: my mom’s spanikopita, roast chicken (for the parents/grandparents), tofurkey (I had to try it just once), roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, sauteed carrots and green beans, apple pie and pumpkin pie. We ate well but not too terribly much. I had made a (vegan) apple-walnut pie with a whole wheat crust I should share at some point and vegetarian gravy, which is one of my Thanksgiving staples. The baby produced her first laugh of sorts and slept fairly well that night.
[Quinoa breakfast bowl, November 2013.]
This year I was and am so very thankful for: a husband who gets it; the wee one, whose daily progress never fails to fascinate; a family who has let me and the girl camp out for a few stolen weeks in
apple wine country; friends who meet you spontaneously at Hardcore Espresso to sit in the mid-day sun for a good hour and a half talking about all the things you talk about when you have known each other for years and years; these weeks of endless sunshine and mild temperatures (though — California, please rain soon); too many other things to count.
I am also so thankful for my friend Jessica, who texts near-daily to check in and who, though she lives in Baltimore and we’re lucky if we manage to see each other once a year, feels like a friend who lives just down the street (we did experience this once, back in the DC days). We’ve known each other since our third year (I think?) of college; I’m fortunate she didn’t let my inherent shyness deter her when we met in a journalism feature writing class. We email constantly about things large and small, and have supported each other through multiple moves, marriages, moments of angst … She’s a good egg.
Anyway, when Jessica texted me last week about a sort of quinoa breakfast bowl — with maple syrup, butter, dried fruit, etc. — she’d been envisioning, I was intrigued. I do love my morning oats, but as I am forevermore obsessed with quinoa I knew I had to try out her concept. And indeed I’ve been wanting to make my sister-in-law Emily’s rendition of a breakfast quinoa (she swears by subbing in orange juice for the water) so it felt natural to finally take the plunge. I didn’t really do a ‘recipe’ per se, but simply made a small pot of quinoa into which I added a pat of butter, a handful of dried blueberries (couldn’t find the crandberries but these sufficed just fine), and a pinch of salt, then I added a good splash of almond milk and a liberal drizzle of maple syrup before I sat down to tuck in. It was marvelous. I will make this again and again for it is the perfect sort of breakfast for late fall and early winter, especially during this in-between holiday period of December (suddenly the end of the year looms; are we ready?). I hope you try it out.
** So after all we are leaving for Morocco this weekend rather than today; after a lot of thinking (read: worrying) about it, I realized that while I can and do do a lot, embarking upon a 20-hour international plane journey with a 10-week old is a leeeetle bit more than I can handle. So, because I am married to a really kind great guy, DW is coming to California to get us (see again that whole thankful thing). I definitely agonized over this a bit but I think it’s for the best. And so we have a few more days to get organized, steal a few more back roads runs, grab a burrito and a coffee or two … and then we’re off. I’ll report in soon from the other side.
Please note that this is a pretty loose recipe; I hope you don’t mind. Use any and all dried fruits (apricots? cherries?) that you like, though I’m partial to cranberries this time of year. I use almond milk, as that’s my favorite milk of choice these days, but any sort of dairy or non-dairy milk will work just fine. Brown sugar might be nice, too, or a good dollop of honey.
1 cup cooked quinoa (1 cup rinsed quinoa cooked in 2 cups water; you may use 1 cup orange juice or milk/non-dairy milk in place of 1 cup of the water)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
almond milk to taste
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
maple syrup to taste
1/4 cup sliced almonds (or nuts of choice)
Cook the quinoa with a pinch of salt and when it’s done, stir in the dried cranberries. While it’s still warm, divide it between two bowls. Add almond milk to taste, and gently stir in the butter or margarine. Drizzle each bowl with maple syrup and top with a sprinkling of nuts before serving. Serve warm.